People who contract the Omicron variant are likely to experience a milder illness compared to earlier strains of coronavirus such as Delta, according to new research.
Cases of Omicron are less likely to result in hospitalisation, two new studies have revealed, but scientists have warned the variant’s high transmission rate may still have an impact.
The news comes as coronavirus rates continue to rise, with more than 100,000 new cases reported on Wednesday, the highest since the start of the pandemic.
Boris Johnson has faced calls to outline his post-Christmas Covid strategy for England, as Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have all announced new restrictions to tackle the Omicron variant.
Research from Imperial College London has indicated that people with PCR-confirmed Omicron are 15-20% less likely to need admission to hospital, and 40-45% less likely to require a stay of one night or more.
Professor Neil Ferguson, from the team behind one of the studies, said: “Our analysis shows evidence of a moderate reduction in the risk of hospitalisation associated with the Omicron variant compared with the Delta variant.
“However, this appears to be offset by the reduced efficacy of vaccines against infection with the Omicron variant.
“Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron virus, there remains the potential for health services to face increasing demand if Omicron cases continue to grow at the rate that has been seen in recent weeks.”
Meanwhile nightclubs are set to be closed in Northern Ireland from December 26, while stricter measures have been revealed for Wales including social distancing and the rule of six.
In Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already introduced new curbs on hospitality.
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